Open Europe Blog

Well, it was probably only a matter of time: a German anti-euro party has just come onto the scene.

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten reports that the new party will launch in April under the name  “Alternative for Germany”. The party appears to be an offspring of “Wahlalternative 2013” (Election Alternative 2013) – a group consisting mostly of academics but also including Hans-Olaf Henkel, the well-known and outspoken former head of Germany’s employers federation BDI.

Despite widespread and continued public scepticism towards the eurozone bailouts in Germany – 63% of Germans are against a Cypriot bailout for example and some polls show that around two-thirds of Germans think they would be better off with the Deutschmark – there is no political party in Germany that is openly sceptical of the euro itself, unlike in other eurozone creditor states such as Austria, the Netherlands and Finland. The new formation will clearly try to fill that vacuum.

So what precisely does the group stand for? Well, according to their website:

1. Germany should no longer guarantee debts of other States, in accordance with the Maastricht Treaty.

2. The single currency should be abandoned. All States should be free to leave to euro and enter currency associations which fit them (northern and southern euro) or introduce parallel currencies.

3. A referendum before the German Federal Republic transfers considerable sovereignty [to the EU]

On Facebook, the group specifies that they will campaign for a return to “national currencies or smaller currency associations”. So, strictly speaking, it won’t be a pure D-Mark party.

So will this new party have an immediate impact – a German mirror image of Beppe Grillo? Unlikely. In order to make it into the Bundestag, parties need to get over 5% of the votes – which, absent a major turn of events, won’t happen (even 1% would be a decent outcome). Perhaps the 2014 European Parliament elections – where the 5% threshold doesn’t apply and voters feel less constrained about venting their frustrations with Europe – can be the party’s platform, but even that will be tough.

It was perhaps telling that a leaked email from one of the founders, Hamburg-based economics professor  Bernd Lucke, revealed that the leadership of the Free Voters – a political movement active primarily in Bavaria toying with anti-euro ideas and which managed to secure 10% of the vote in the last local elections – declined to join forces with Alternative for Germany. DWN notes that this may mean that the political anti-euro community is split even before they properly come into existence.

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